Starting the mission I had no idea what to expect. For one reason or another I quickly realized I had no idea what being a missionary was really like. As I started the mission and had sensed my neglect of asking about the missions of my brothers, brothers-in-law, father, grandparents, cousins, and just about everyone else. It started to hit me as my oldest brother William asked me a week before leaving on the mission on a road trip from his home in Arkansas towards New Orleans. He turned to me and asked, "So, what are your expectations for your mission." I was caught off-guard. I had absolutely no idea what to respond. After thinking a bit, I responded, "Well, if nothing else, I'll come back learning Spanish." I could tell he wasn't too impressed with my answer, but it was the only thing I could muster out at the time.
Not only until I got to Mexico did I read in the beginning of the Missionary Handbook a quote from Brigham Young that said, "If you go on a mission to preach the Gospel with lightness and frivolity in your hearts, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world, you will go and return in vain..." I didn't feel like I was there for the wrong reasons, but what exactly was I looking for? Baptisms? People to teach? As I looked outside I could see there were plenty of seemingly uninterested people all around me. How was I to know what to do?
Take a few moments to think of what you think a missionary does. What kind of things fill up your day? I thought, eat, walk, preach, repeat. What else is there? I felt kind of like Prince Derek frm the Swan Princess and getting the same reaction from the princess, saying, "What do you mean what else is there? Of course there is more!" If you look very superficially you will see the boring routine, but the magic is is the moment. From outside you will never feel the same as you do within.
I still remember the blind Elder that showed up to the MTC that Elder Milovidov helped get around and that did everything that was required of him and accepted things as they were. I remember several of my companions helping me when I was myself helpless. The mission is about helping others and forgetting about yourself. In my first interview with my Branch President in the MTC I hardly remember what was said. But one thing I do remember. He told me as I walked in, "Elder, these next two years aren't about you." He continued to explain that if I could focus on others I would never have a personal problem for the next two years. Shortly after, just leaving the MTC, I turned to a good friend of mine who was a teacher there at the time, Pat Matherson, and he gave me what he said the best advice he ever got, "Just get out of the way."
What do you mean get out of the way? I didn't even know I was blocking anything. What do you mean, Pat? He wouldn't tell me.
As time has gone on, it would seem that all has worked together to help me lay aside some of my own personal cares to help someone else. That the mission makes you yourself much more humble that you have a higher capacity to serve others. As we put our will with the Lord's, miracles can occur. Each day as we become more like Christ, we will better serve the people around us. I hesitate to use myself as an example, but if you can see anything of good report in what I have done; may it bless you. May my example be joined with those of many others, and with that of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to benefit every person in partaking of the many blessings of this gospel.
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31
"wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream" Jacob 7:26
For the last time,
P.S. Last week was Elder Hernandez' birthday. The mission forget to put his name in the announcements and he got really sad. But here it is tradition to throw flour and eggs and confetti at the birthday kid, so, with him right next to me as always I was able to help organize 4 different surprise parties with the help of the members, and he said it was his best birthday ever. Enjoy the picture after we got back from playing soccer in the morning.
|Elder Hernadez covered with flour, eggs, and confetti for his birthday!|